By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Now Available on the Nintendo Switch
Jetboard Joust has everything I’d expect from a reinvention of Williams Electronics’s Defender kicked up a notch. Players knock down the enemy and they drop coins so you can use them to acquire power-ups. The dedication to destroy your enemies and earn in-game currency (without ever having to spend real money) at the same time makes for a nicer product. Similar to the classic, you pilot, no skate on a flying board where you have to race from one part of a side-scrolling world to another to save humans.
The alien bosses you meet are titanic, and the gameplay includes a dungeon-crawl. Instead of rinse and repeat with the speed of these abductions getting faster, you have to deal with other foes (there’s 50 of ’em!) as you advance through levels, new planets and maybe a black hole!
The action is crazy, intense, and I’ve barely made it past the first few levels at time of writing. Flash forward a few weeks later. I need to practise a lot more to dodge enemy fire to progress deeper. This game remembers where you last left off. It’d be terrible if you had to start from scratch again. Even better is the variety of weapons. You can’t get them all right away, so that’s where being nimble with the controller is a must.
The Nintendo Switch version (that I played) is a recent port of the PC/Mac platformer. Gameplay is very smooth and I couldn’t find a bug that needed squashing even if I tried. The 8-Bit presentation on a 65″ 4K screen is crisp, and the only time I struggled was with the sensitivity of jostling back and forth with the “joust” and “fire” button. Between mobile play and at home, I’m leaning on the latter so I can enjoy the spectacular graphics along with what I’m doing.